Iraqi Leader Warns Against U.S. Withdrawal

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s foreign minister says he believes his country has averted a civil war after five years of “tears and blood.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned that an abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal would be disastrous.

He added that the United States has “an international and moral responsibility, to help the people of Iraq to reach a stable form of governance.”

Zebari says his country has “gone through a very, very difficult transformation,” but the Iraqis have been able to establish a government and gain freedoms they didn’t have in the nearly 30 years of Saddam Hussein’s rule.

Zebari goes on to say that “divisions have deepened, unfortunately.” Sectarian violence and insurgent attacks have taken the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis. Nearly 4,000 U.S. troops have died since the invasion.